Once again, an Oklahoma community has faced the ravages and fury of a tornado. Woodward took a direct hit, leaving six dead, many injured and a tremendous loss of property. Only those who have been through the experience can know the depth of loss that comes in losing the majority of your worldly possessions. Deeper still is the pain of losing loved ones and friends.
In times like these, to whom do you turn? When life throws you to the mat and things you once held dear are gone, where can you find solace and help? For those of us who know Christ, our first word is to call on people to cast themselves into the everlasting arms of our Mighty God, allowing the God of all comfort to soothe their aching hearts.
Man’s days are full of trouble. Whether the storms are in the form of an F-3 tornado or life experiences that blow with just as great a wind speed, there is an anchor in the storm. Our God does not ignore us. He stands ready to pull us into His lap and hold us when the storms seek to pull us apart. He is our strength when we are weak and an ever present help in times of trouble.
But God has created us to need human touch also. He is ever present, but often demonstrates His presence through the loving touch and helping hands of His people. Such is the case in times of disaster. Oklahoma people of every persuasion come out of the woodwork to assist and offer a helping hand. I have watched across the years as this Oklahoma standard is repeated again and again during times of disaster.
When tragedy strikes, I take great joy in pointing to an army of volunteers who are first on the scene, trained and tireless in meeting the needs of hurting people. I speak of the band of brothers and sisters called Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. They serve tirelessly, without pay and perform dirty jobs, as well as provide warm meals for those still in shock from the trauma of disaster.
In Woodward, as in place after place across our state, nation and world, those in the bright yellow shirts and hats give themselves away without reserve and pour oil on the troubled waters of people in need. With every meal and every touch, the love of Christ is evident. The deeds of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are not acts of pity, but expressions of the love of the Savior. Their listening ears, comforting hugs and soft prayers bring the presence of God in the midst of tragedy and despair.
Oklahoma Baptists give to the State Missions Offering and give special gifts during times of disaster to support disaster relief work. The Cooperative Program provides needed resources and covers the office expenses so that the disaster relief work is not hindered in any way. I can assure you that every dollar makes a huge difference in our ability to minister during times of disaster.
Thanks to Sam Porter and Mary Stephens who oversee this great disaster relief work. Join me in giving praise to the Father for the thousands of trained volunteers who serve. And especially now, pray for those in the town of Woodward who have lost so much.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.